If you’re wondering what it means for our children to learn in real classrooms where they can interact face-to-face with teachers and their peers, take a look at how the pandemic-related learning loss is affecting West Virginia’s results at the National assessment of educational progress has impacted ‘annual report card.
Based on the results of reading and math tests for fourth- and eighth-graders over the past year, the results of Mountain State’s National Assessment of Educational Achievement not only fell well below the national average, but to an all-time low.
Of course, Gov. Jim Justice tried to dress up the results by reminding us that education is about more than just test scores.
But test scores are the means we have to objectively measure the quality of the education our students are receiving.
If those results have fallen to their worst-ever scores, it doesn’t matter how much the students “like” their teachers, there’s still something very wrong that takes more than lip service to put right.
“Well, if the kids love their teachers and the community loves the school, we must have a lot of good stuff going on there, right?” Justice said in his usual faux folksy way. “Let’s just be fair. Far, far, far beyond maybe bad test results. But that doesn’t mean we’re turning our backs on the test results. We want to get better there.”
But this puzzle has many pieces. Parents in West Virginia — or grandparents and foster families — struggle in ways that don’t make it easy to value and support home education. Our culture is still associated with too much distrust and open rejection of formal education. In Charleston, some lawmakers are pushing for more control over education. And many district school boards are reluctant to face the reality that classroom results just aren’t up to par.
Teachers are asked to be counselors and nurses, to feed and clothe students, to be their safe place in a scary world – and asked to deliver higher test scores. Some succeed. Too many struggle and see little hope.
Rather than shrug off the worst test results ever, Justice and others in Charleston had better be working to ameliorate the myriad of conditions that led to such dismal results. This should be a pivotal moment in our state as we come together to address our educational deficiencies.
Our students and the state deserve no less.